NEW YORK – Two of New York’s finest entertainers made magic on one of the city’s most iconic stages. 

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga met last August at Radio City Music Hall for the “One Last Time” show. This was the first of two farewell performances the friends and long-time collaborators performed in preparation for their joint album “Love for Sale”. A special TV program based on the show, “One Final Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,” will air Sunday at 8 ET/PT (CBS).

The seemingly unlikely duo first met in 2011 and released a jazz album, “Cheek to Cheek,” in 2014. Since then, Gaga has released two solo efforts including last year’s “Chromatica” and won a best original song Oscar for “Shallow” from 2018’s “A Star is Born.” Bennett, meanwhile, recorded two other duets albums with Bill Charlap and Diana Krall. In February, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. 

Bennett, who was 95 days old on the day the shows began, was later diagnosed with the illness in 2016. But the music legend was as spry and charismatic as ever as he performed a roughly half-hour solo set for the sold-out Radio City crowd, which gave him a standing ovation after nearly every song. Set-list highlights included “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Last Night When We Were Young,” as Bennett poignantly crooned about “the arms that clung when we were young last night.” 

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The jazz icon’s “This Is All I Ask” was similarly emotional, particularly as Bennett lingered on the ballad’s haunting final lines: “And let the music play as long as there’s a song to sing / And I will stay younger than spring.” Throughout his set, Bennett stood by a piano center stage and rarely spoke, aside from the occasional “thank you,” “wow” and “whoa” in between songs. Bennett’s frequent thumbs up and air kisses to the crowd showed that he loves them. 

The cover of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's upcoming album "Love for Sale."

Gaga, 35, sweetly served as both emcee and hype woman during the hour-and-a-half concert. The pop star opened for Bennett with an unabashedly theatrical performance, featuring two sumptuous costume changes as she shook, shimmied and slinked across the stage in full lounge singer mode. 

Gaga laughed about the mishaps she had earlier on in the evening, including losing her wig dancing. It’s only going to get better. 

Charmingly, the chameleonic, sultry singer played off her audience and bandmates throughout her set. Some of them were also seated at tables to recreate the jazz club atmosphere. She spoke at length about her hypothetical funeral introducing “Coquette,” deadpanning that she wants to be cremated. “I have already purchased my urn. What if I go and someone gives me a perm and puts me in a pink dress or some [expletive]?”) Her touching “What a Difference A Day Makes” was dedicated to courageous front-line nurses and doctors. 

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Gaga’s amazing one-two punch, “La Vie en Rose”, which she sang famously in “A Star is Born” and “New York New York,” was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night. Bennett also used this song to introduce Bennett. The former was dedicated by Gaga to Natali Germanotta (fashion designer), whom she cried out to singing to. 

“Sorry, I had to go sing to my sister for a second,” Gaga apologized after literally climbing back up on stage. Showbiz is not everything. 

Gaga, who wore a top-hat, sang “New York, New York” to the cheering crowd. 

She sang, in her beautiful, throaty voice, “Start spreading news / It is Tony Bennett’s Birthday,” and added, “He’s my friend.” He is my musical friend. He is the best singer in the world.” 

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After leading Radio City in a tender “happy birthday” song, Gaga performed three tunes with Bennett at the end of the night: “The Lady is a Tramp,” “Anything Goes” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” Gaga closed the concert by singing a lovely rendition of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” from 1962. 

Bennett said, “You have been a great audience.” Bennett exclaimed, “I love this audience,” just before he gave his encore. 

Gaga left the stage with a reverent expression, bowing to Tony Bennett and kissing him on his cheek before walking out hand-in-hand. 

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Source: USAToday.com

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